Utah Wildfire Smoke Management
The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (UWC) works collaboratively with other land managers along side the Utah Division of Air Quality (UDAQ) to mitigate the smoke impacts of prescribed fire on air quality, visibility, and public safety. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized Utah’s Smoke Management Program since 1999. The Program focuses on federal and state land managers conducting prescribed fire in Utah. Projects on private and municipal land that meet the definition of a prescribed fire also participate.
A prescribed fire is a planned ignition in accordance with applicable laws, policies, and regulations to meet specific land management objectives. A burn plan is required for each prescribed fire ignited by management. Burn plans are documents prepared by qualified fire personnel, approved by the agency administrator, and include criteria for the weather and vegetation conditions under which the prescribed fire will be conducted (a prescription). Land managers work with UDAQ and the Interagency Smoke Management Coordinator to identify actions to minimize smoke impacts. These could include risk analysis of effects on populated areas, public notifications prior to burning, permitting burning when atmospheric conditions will allow pollution to disperse rapidly, site preparation to ensure efficient burning, and use of non-burning alternatives where appropriate. More information on the program can be found here.
Additionally, if you are curious where the wildfire smoke is coming from, Paul Corrigan (Utah’s Interagency Smoke Management Coordinator) recommends checking out this video and this link which display wildfires across the country (along with Canada and Mexico), the extent of smoke plumes, and current air quality.
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